When shit goes downhill on a hunt, it goes down fast. One second, Sam and Dean are standing, shotguns ready as they wait for John's signal, the next they're both flying through the air and the witch, who has appeared out of nowhere, is chanting something, screaming really, that crescendos and then cuts off abruptly.
Sam lands flat on his back in the grass, feels the air whoosh out of his lungs and refuse to return for a few seconds. He lays there with his mouth gaping open, struggling to suck in just a tiny bit of air and trying not to panic, but neither Dean nor Dad has said anything and the panic is welling up anyway.
He finally gasps in a huge heave of air and sits up, back protesting and head spinning. Dean's in a crumpled heap a dozen yards away, and it looks like he slammed into a tree when he was thrown. Sam scrambles to his side, chanting Dean's name under his breath as he moves and wondering where the hell his dad is.
"Dean, Dean, hey, Dean," Sam murmurs, patting insistently (and maybe a bit desperately) at his brother's cheek. Dean's pale and still, and there's blood trickling from the side of his mouth.
"Shit," Sam swears, fumbling with Dean's shirt frantically. He's trying not to freak out at the blood, because blood from the mouth means internal bleeding and internal bleeding means almost dying-
"Hey," Dean murmurs, fuzzily pawing at Sam's face. "'M okay."
Sam smiles tightly then continues ripping Dean's shirt off, eyes widening at the sight of the bruises littering his torso. There are two raised lumps under the skin of his chest which Sam realizes with horror are probably his ribs.
"Oh shit, Dean, you're bleeding internally, we've gotta get you to a hospital-"
"Hey," Dean repeats, louder. "Bit my lip straight through when I hit the tree, Sammy."
Sam lets out a sigh of relief and sits back on his heels.
"You've still busted a couple of ribs, though, and they look, uh, pretty bad, Dean."
Dean nods, then winces.
"Hit my head too, probably got a concussion."
"Okay. Listen, I'm gonna check on Dad and then we'll get you to the hospital, okay? You know the drill, stay awake or I'll kick your ass."
Dean smirks weakly. "You wish."
"I'm bigger than you now, Dean-o, or are you blind as well as short?"
Dean flips him the bird as Sam hurries to Dad's side, trying not to think of all of the reasons that he might not have gotten up yet…
Well…he thinks it's Dad's side, anyway, and this is sure as hell not one of the reasons that had ever, in his wildest dreams, crossed his mind for his father's silence. Where he last saw his father, a woman is lying curled naked on the ground with Dad's clothes (or what's left of them, anyway) lying around her. Sam freezes, eyes wide, and realizes after a second that his mouth is hanging open. He closes it and takes a cautious step forward, uncertain what he should do next.
Dean groans suddenly and snaps Sam back to attention. If this…woman is his father (and what a strange sentence that is!) then he needs to do what he needs to do for his brother.
"Umm…Dad? Hey, Dad, you okay?"
Dad-the woman- groans and rolls over onto her back, and Sam gets a split second glimpse before clamping his eyes shut in horror. Because sure, naked women aren't exactly anything new, but seeing his Dad…that's new. A disturbing level of new. Dad (because Sam refuses to call him-her-whatever, anything else) must realize he's buck naked because he lets out a very feminine squeak and gathers the tattered clothing remains to his chest.
"Can I look?" Sam asks. He isn't taking any chances.
Sam cracks an eyelid open and is relieved to see that Dad is at least kind of covered.
"Dad, what the hell's going on?"
Dad hauls himself to his feet, clothes still clutched at strategic places and clears his throat.
"Damn witch put a fucking curse on me," Dad says. Sam nods slowly, taking in his father in all his womanly glory. He's not bad looking, which kind of makes Sam want to puke. He has big brown eyes and flowing dark hair, and he's a bit on the curvy side in a way that would turn Dean's head if it wasn't, well, Dad. Holy shit, this is all kinds of screwed up.
"Okay, well, we have to get Dean to a hospital Dad, so…I guess you should get dressed and, uh, you'll be our, uh, mom for the night. Or something."
"Yeah," Dad says. "Uh, go help Dean while I get dressed."
"Yes, sir. I mean, er, ma'am?"
Dad makes a pained sound in the back of his throat.
"Might as well start calling me…that, or we're gonna attract a lot of unwanted attention. Now go help your brother."
Sam nods and runs back to Dean's side, a strange blend of laughing and crying bubbling up in his throat.
"Dean, holy shit, you gotta see Dad-"
Dean's pale and his eyes are shut, and maybe he's not unconscious, maybe he's just resting, but Sam's heart starts thudding in his chest and his breath catches painfully.
"Dean! Dean, dammit, I told you not to sleep, you said you wouldn't sleep-"
"Mm?" Dean moans. Sam's relieved that he's at least conscious, but he appears very much out of it.
"Dean, hey, look at me. You with me?"
Dean stares at him from heavy-lidded eyes and pats at Sam's cheek, missing by a mile and swatting at the air.
"'M fine, Sammy."
Sam rolls his eyes. He is not fine, he's concussed, likely badly, and Dad's a woman, and Sam has no clue what to do.
"He's, uh, he's good, Dean. Told me to get you to the car so we can get you to the hospital, okay?"
"No," Dean murmurs, shoving weakly at Sam's chest. "No."
"Yes, Dean. You're concussed and you've got displaced fractures. You know what that means."
Dean doesn't say anything, but lets his hands drop back to his side, which Sam takes to be acceptance. He shoves his hands under Dean's armpits and hauls him more upright.
"You ready for this?" He asks. Dean grunts, so Sam hauls him to his feet, clenching his teeth as Dean lets out a muffled scream and curls his free hand over his ribs. Sam looks over in concern and sees Dean's biting down on his bottom lip so that more blood is flowing.
"Dean, hey, breathe, man," Sam murmurs, reaching over and teasing Dean's lip out from between the clamped teeth. Dean gasps and winces as Sam hauls ass toward the car, walking as quickly as he can with his big brother weighing down on him.
"Dad?" Dean mutters as they approach the car, head lifting as he looks for their father.
"He's fine, Dean. Let's get you in the car, and then I'll tell you what's up, okay?"
Dean grunts and his head drops back to his chest, breath heaving painfully.
"Almost there, Dean, few more steps," Sam says, shifting Dean's arm over his shoulder. Dean's mouth is hanging open and he's gasping now. Sam swallows down his panic and walks faster, sighing in relief when he gets to the car and Dad's already there, the back door open and their ratty old blanket laid down over the seat.
"Hurry up, son," Dad says in that high voice, hurrying to Sam's side and tucking his arm under Dean's other shoulder. Dean blinks fuzzily at him, frowning in confusion.
"Th' hell are you?" He slurs, trying weakly to pull his arm away from Dad. Dad shoots a look at Sam, who shrugs lopsidedly.
"Uh, I'm your Dad, kiddo. The witch got a spell off on me."
Dean blinks rapidly and shakes his head before stopping with a wince.
"Nngh. Don't trust you," he says even as Sam starts shifting him into the backseat. Dean looks up at Sam with pleading, but fuzzy eyes. "Sammy. 'S not Dad."
"Yeah, Dean, it is," Sam says, arranging Dean's limbs as comfortably as he can on the seat. "He got cursed."
Dean's head lolls as he inspects Dad again, who is leaning in the door behind Sam.
"I'll be damned," Dean murmurs. "Guess she does kinda look like 'im."
"Yep," Sam says, grinning slightly. "Now while we're driving, you make sure you don't pass out. Okay?"
"'Kay," Dean mumbles, but he's already looking drowsy. Sam shakes his shoulder.
"Seriously, Dean. You stay conscious, okay?"
"'Kay," Dean says again.
Sam leans out and closes the door, then stands outside the driver's door, hand held out for the keys.
"The hell do you think you're doin'?" Dad asks.
"You don't have a driver's license, Dad. You get pulled over, we're screwed."
Dad glares at him, though it's not nearly as intimidating as usual. Especially since he's layered his clothes up even more than usual in an attempt to hide his breasts, and he has to keep hitching up his pants.
"Get in the damn car, Sam. If we get pulled over, I'll wing it." His tone of voice makes it clear that he's not going to take no for an answer, so Sam hurries around to the other side and scrambles into the car, craning his neck around to check on Dean as he does. Dean's slumped against the seat, one hand still wrapped around his ribs, and there's a stream of blood snaking its way behind his ear and down his neck.
"Dean, you awake?"
"Shut up, Sam," Dean murmurs. Good enough.
They make it most of the way to the hospital before Dean finally passes out and refuses to be roused. Sam's antsy with concern, fingers drumming anxiously at the dashboard, barking Dean's name every couple of minutes while shaking his brother's legs. Dean doesn't answer, just looks pale and wan, all color gone from his face other than the darkened patches beneath his eyes.
"Dean! Dammit, Dean, open your eyes!" Sam yells for the third (or fourth, or fifth) time.
"Sam! Knock it off! He's out, okay?" Dad cries, startling Sam. His voice is tremulous and wobbly and decidedly un-Dad like. Sam wonders abruptly if maybe Dad's more…feminine emotions are coming to the surface. Come to think of it, who knows what the hell kind of hormones are flooding him right now?
Dad doesn't look away from the road but swipes a hand under his nose and sniffles loudly. Sam would laugh, if Dean weren't maybe-dying in the backseat.
They peel into the parking lot of the hospital and Dad reaches in to bundle Dean out of the car before realizing that he no longer has the strength to carry Dean's dead weight. He looks helplessly up at Sam, lower lip trembling and eyes looking suspiciously wet.
"I got this, Dad," Sam says, scooping Dean into his arms bridal style in an attempt to keep his ribs from shifting. He can feel blood from Dean's head soaking into his shirt sleeve and swallows down the bile that threatens to rise.
"Sam, don't forget, I'm, uh, Mom from here on out," Dad says as they approach the entrance.
"Oh. Yeah. Got it," Sam says, and then they go through the doors.
Dean's been wheeled away into a trauma room and Sam and Dad (Mom?) are sitting in the waiting room. Sam's foot is tapping restlessly against the leg of his chair, and Dad is quietly wringing his hands.
"This room is damn ugly," Dad murmurs, looking with distaste at the taupe walls.
"Huh?" Sam says, looking up.
"I would've painted this room more of a green color, that's all," Dad says. "This beige color is dull." Sam stares at him with wide eyes.
"Holy shit, Dad, you're turning into a woman for real," he says, torn between crying and laughing.
"Shut up," Dad growls, punching Sam in the arm. It lacks its usual power, but Sam doesn't say anything, deciding for once that silence may be the best policy.
They lapse into silence again, disturbed only by Sam's foot tap-tap-tapping and Dad's occasional mumbled curse, usually as he tries to shift his…chest into a more comfortable position.
A nurse comes out abruptly, startling both of them out of their reverie. She looks both flustered and determined and makes a beeline toward Sam and John.
"Are you here with Dean Winchester?" She asks. Sam and Dad both rise to their feet.
"Yeah," Dad says. "What's going on?"
"Dean's awake and very agitated. We don't want to sedate him because of the head injury, but unless you can get through to him, we're going to have to."
"We can calm him," Dad says firmly. "Where is he?"
The nurse leads them back to Dean's room, which has a handful of medical staff in it, grouped in a semi-circle around Dean with one guy trying to approach him with an arm raised soothingly. Dean's backed into a corner, scalpel held in one trembling hand, eyes darting from person to person and the crook of his arm is bleeding where he ripped out an IV. He's clearly both agitated and disoriented, loudly demanding to see Dad
Sam's heart sinks. If Dean's this out of it, there's no way he's going to remember Dad's transformation.
"Dean, hey," Sam says, walking slowly up to Dean's side. He can hear Dad behind him, telling the doctors how Dean's dad passed away recently and he's been taking it hard and hasn't really come to terms with it yet. Sam's just trying to get Dean to look at him, to make eye contact and see him. Dean, though, isn't looking at him, isn't looking at anything so far as Sam can tell. Sam finally gently grabs Dean's chin in his hand.
"Dean. Hey, you're okay. Look at me. You're okay, Dean."
Dean blinks and looks hazily at Sam, frowning when they finally make eye contact.
"Sammy?" He slurs. His grip on the scalpel starts to waver. "Dad's not here." Then he leans over and pukes, bile splashing onto the floor as Dean groans. The scalpel clatters to the tile. Sam wraps his arms around Dean's middle to keep him upright and leans down, whispering to him.
"No Dean, Dad's different, remember?" He's hoping Dean will show some hint of recognition but gets none as Dean frowns and brings a hand to his head.
"Where's Dad, Sammy?"
Sam swallows thickly and hates himself for what he's about to do, for how much he's about to screw with Dean's head.
"Dad's not here, Dean, remember? M-Mom's here, though. Mom's here."
Dean's eyes widen and he allows himself to be steered back towards the gurney he escaped from.
"Mom?" He whispers, looking utterly lost and confused. "N-no."
Sam eases Dean onto the gurney with the help of a doctor, then crouches next to Dean's head, thumbing his forehead soothingly.
"It's okay, Dean. You've hit your head and you're confused, but it'll make sense when you're better, I promise."
Dean doesn't look convinced, eyes wide and frightened. He looks incredibly young to Sam's eyes and uncharacteristically vulnerable.
"Mom?" He murmurs again, struggling to sit up. Sam's trying to keep him down without hurting his ribs any further even as a nurse tries to establish another IV. "Mom!"
Sam watches with a tingle of panic as one of the doctors nudges Dad over, though Dad is hesitant and clearly trying to stay back to avoid confusing Dean even further. He ends up next to Dean, though, and reaches out to comfort him, murmuring "It's okay, Dean, it's okay."
Dean looks at him and frowns, the confusion and hurt etched plainly on his features.
"No," he slurs, his voice beginning to pick up in volume. "No!"
And then he's thrashing, ripping out his newly started IV and the nasal cannula settled under his nose, and he's bleeding and screaming and Sam wonders where the hell the doctors are and why the fuck they aren't sedating him- when Dean lets out a heart-wrenching scream and arches his back to a painful degree. There's a sudden pop and Sam's face is splashed with something warm and wet and then there's a split second of silence before all hell breaks loose.
Sam looks at Dean, lying pale and unconscious on the gurney, and holy shit, the rib that had been a lump beneath his skin is now sticking out of his chest, glistening white and red. The medical staff is working a lot faster than they had been, barking orders to one another with far more urgency than they had been before.
"Dean!" Sam yells. Someone starts shoving him out of the room, saying something about him not being allowed, but Sam barely hears what they're saying. All he can see is his brother as they tilt his head back and shove a tube down his throat.
He figures he must have gone in to shock or something because the next thing he knows, he's sitting in the same plastic chair as before, Dad trembling in the seat next to him.
"Sam?" Dad says, his voice high and thin. He's absently playing with his hair, twining it around his finger as his lower lip trembles. "You've got blood on your face."
Sam reaches up and smears his fingers over his cheek, looking at them in mute shock when they come back tinted red.
"Oh," he murmurs, and then Dad's leaning into him, slender body shaking with tears. Sam is startled and more than a little panicked. He tries to tell himself that his Dad isn't really himself right now, but having his normally stoic father, the man he relies on to stay strong when Dean is down, is losing his shit. Sam awkwardly wraps his arms around him and tries to maintain a sense of composure. He ends up crying anyway.